Encouragement for Today - Jan. 19, 2011

January 19, 2011
Listening to God
Renee Swope

"The Son can do nothing by Himself; he can do only what He sees the Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son does also." John 5:19 (NIV)

I want to be a woman who listens to God. But, sometimes I'm not sure if it's God talking or just me thinking. And if I'm really honest, when I do sense Him whispering to my heart, I'm not always crazy about what I sense He's telling me to do. Like the time I knew without a doubt God was calling me to share my testimony publicly. I pretty much ran from that assignment for a decade.

Yet, I've learned over the past twenty years that when I listen to God I discover His best for me. And, I grow my trust in Him. I've seen again and again that His ways lead to His goodness. And when I follow Him, His mercy follows me.

At the end of my ten-year spiritual sprint away from what scared me most — sharing the story of my brokenness with others — I surrendered to what God was calling me to do. I started listening closely to Him and trusting completely in Him, so that I could experience a day-by-day abiding in His presence and promises. From there, His plans unfolded day-by-day.

Honestly, I thought I had been listening to Him all that time. But one day while I was praying about God's direction in some decisions, the Holy Spirit showed me that I had a habit of asking God what He wanted me to do and where He wanted me to invest my time. Then I went about doing that, without depending on Him for direction each step of the way.

Oftentimes, I would seek God for the larger plans in life, convinced that if I figured out what He wanted me to do then I could become the person He created me to be and fulfill the calling He had for me.

Have you ever thought: "If only God would show me what job to take; what man to marry; what church to attend, what ministry to serve in - then my life would be complete and I could trust Him with my whole heart"?

The problem is that sometimes we get a glimpse of where He wants us to go and then assume we know how to get there. Or we get a peak at what He wants us to do and think we know how He wants us to get it done. How many times have I made that mistake and then wondered why I wasn't getting anywhere?

Over time, God has taught me that He wants my spiritual ears more than my spiritual efforts. He wants daily dependence, interaction and intimacy with me. And He is more concerned with my character than my calendar.

You know, Jesus depended on the Father for the large and fine print written in His life plan. He listened closely and obeyed quickly. In today's key verse, John 5:19, we see His absolute dependence: "The Son can do nothing by Himself; he can do only what He sees the Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son does also."

Like Jesus, we will discover God's purpose for our lives through dependent hearts that seek to listen to His — day by day, moment by moment. Let's position our hearts, minds and souls to hear Him speak to us today.

Dear Lord, I want to become a woman who listens to You. I come to You today with a seeking heart, asking not only for direction but for discernment, humility and dependence on You -- each step of the way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

Rest Assured: How to Rest, Be Renewed & Remain in God's Promises and Plans
a message on CD by Renee Swope

Do worries and distractions ever drown out your ability to hear God's voice? Visit Renee's blog where she's talking about how we can quiet our run-away thoughts and learn to discern God's voice.

Renee's giving away a copy of What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, by Lysa TerKeurst. Click here to find out more.

Shaped with Purpose: Finding God's Purpose for Your Life workbook and message on CD by Renee Swope

When you buy resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity! Each purchase supports the many areas of life-changing ministry we provide at no cost. So, we are extremely grateful when you shop with us!

Application Steps: 

Take time today to pull away from distractions and quiet your thoughts, even if it's just 10-15 minutes. Tell God about your desire to hear Him speak to your heart through a verse, a song, a person or a whisper in your soul. Talk to Him about your plans for the day and ask Him to show you His. Give Him permission to interrupt your thoughts and agenda and lead you in a different direction if He wants to. Get ready for a day filled with adventure and companionship as you walk hand in hand with your Maker.

Visit Renee's blog to find out how you can discern God's voice and recognize His promptings.

Do I read my Bible so that God's words and ways are familiar to me? Do I intentionally listen for God's voice, or do I assume I know what He wants me to do?

Power Verses:

Psalm 119:16, "I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word." (NIV)

John 14:31a, "but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father." (NLT)

1 Samuel 3:10, "The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening." (NIV)

© 2011 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved. 

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105

Originally published Wednesday, 19 January 2011.